The week before any standardized test is often filled with stress and anxiety. Adam Allouche, ESM’s Director of Test Strategy, has a few tips for you on how to use this time to maximize your score come test day.
1. Take a Practice Test
A full-length practice test is the best way to conclude your test prep, and is a reliable indicator of how you will perform. Most importantly, practice tests help test takers build the stamina needed to get through four grueling hours of testing. Try to take the practice test on the Saturday morning the week before your test date so that you can get in the habit of getting up early on a weekend, and schedule a meeting with your mentor for the following week to review your practice test results and review your core strategies one last time.
2. Do Not Cram
Preparing for the ACT and SAT is not possible overnight. Instead, trust the process that you and your mentor have perfected over the previous weeks. Feeling unprepared is not uncommon in the week before the test, but it is almost always just nerves. Don’t stay up late taking full sections or tests on your own to make sure that you are “ready,” as you are more likely to develop bad habits than to have a breakthrough that will greatly increase your score. In the week before the actual test, you should review your practice test results and your strategies for each section with your mentor, and then relax! If you want to do a little bit more prep, spend some time reviewing math formulas for 15 to 30 minutes a day.
This point is as much for parents as it is for test takers. A test taker’s ability to relax in the week before the test is key to his or her score, as it will help to minimize the inevitable pre-test jitters and allow them to focus on the task at hand. Adding extra stress, or even just discussing how important these tests are, can undo even the highest of achievers. Your children know how important these tests are (we tell them all the time), so don’t mistake their attempts to relax for indifference!
Test takers should try to relax by having their favorite meal for dinner the Friday night before the test and going to bed early. In addition, stretching, yoga and meditation have been proven to be effective stress reducers and to boost student performance.
4. Don’t change your routine
Don’t try to do something different on Saturday morning; stick to what you know works! Stay away from coffee if you don’t normally drink it in the morning, and do NOT have any sugary, caffeinated beverages (Red Bull, Monster, etc.), even if you feel tired when you wake up. They will have your head on your desk before you know it. Drink water, have a healthy breakfast, and head to your test filled with confidence!
Test Day Checklist
√ Wake up early (about the same time you wake up for school)
√ Have a balanced breakfast, without too much sugar
√ Sharpen 4 no. 2 lead pencils (no mechanical)
√ Charge your calculator (or put in fresh batteries)
√ Pack a snack – water bottle, granola, dark chocolate, banana
√ Dress comfortably with layers – temperatures in test centers can vary
√ Have your admission ticket and ID card handy
√ Arrive 15 minutes early to the test center